November - December 2022 — Dance
Founded in 2017, Company MEK is a Swiss contemporary dance company that champions diversity of dance styles and cultures. The team is activist, young, provocative and ambitious. Company MEK aims to offer dancers working at a professional level from various backgrounds opportunities for further development and to establish dance as a serious career perspective. Three Company MEK members – Muhammed Kaltuk, Annakatharina Chiedza Spörri and Sabrina Gifti Tekako – will spend time at the École des Sables in Senegal from 14 November – 7 December 2022 for a research trip.
The trip is motivated by a desire to develop as a company and as individual artists. In their respective and shared practices, the dancers are interested in techniques outside the European norm and are inspired by École des Sables founder Germaine Acogny’s philosophy and technique. They are interested in broadening their understanding of traditional dances and how these roots flow into contemporary dance.
The École des Sables is located in the fishing village of Toubab Dialaw, south of Dakar, and is devoted to the professional training of African dancers and the development and promotion of contemporary African dance. It is a school of theoretical and practical teaching, a research laboratory and a place for meetings and exchanges, conferences and artistic residencies. The École was founded by acclaimed Senegalese-French dancer and choreographer, Germaine Acogny, one of the best-known personalities of the African contemporary dance scene. Germaine’s unique technique of Modern African Dance is influenced by the gestural heritage of her grandmother, a Yoruba priestess, and her learning of traditional African dances and Western dances (classical, modern) in Paris and New York.
In addition to participating in the training programme at the École, the Company MEK dancers will share their own techniques and methodologies through workshops. “Our philosophy is that dancers not only learn our movement material, but also discover new things within their personal language,” Muhammed explains. “We want dancers to learn to break the boundaries of different dance styles and to benefit from the diversity of techniques and aesthetics.”
Founder and artistic director of Company MEK, Muhammed Kaltuk‘s roots are in hip hop, which continues to inform his current dance aesthetic. Through his working methods and vision, Muhammed has developed a signature style. His work engages social commentary and explores political and personal themes. Muhammed works primarily with combining the styles of hip hop and contemporary. He is passionate about hip hop being recognised as part of the contemporary dance vocabulary and accepted as a serious art form in established cultural circles. His choreography finely attuned to the body with great importance placed on inner attitude matching outer expression. This feeling carries through into his teaching. He encourages dancers to break out of their usual aesthetics and discover new sides of themselves. In addition to his work with Company MEK, Muhammed also collaborates with different theatres and their companies in Switzerland (Ballett Theater Basel, Theater St.Gallen, Theater Luzern).
Anna Chiedza Spörri has been active in the Swiss dance scene for over ten years. She has trained in renowned street dance studios in New York, Los Angeles and London. She uses her diverse dance background to create her own unique style of movement and expression which skilfully fuses hip hop, house, dancehall and contemporary. Anna is a founding member of Company MEK and has an inimitable flair for Muhammed’s choreography. She plays an active role in thinking and developing the vision for the company. Anna is interested in the concept of “social dance” and explores themes confronting identity and her personal reality. As a teacher, Anna’s classes are physically demanding but leave space for her own interpretation and research. Anna regularly makes an artistic exchange through written texts. For her, this has a meditative aspect and is another form of her own artistic expression. Various forms of texts are developed through prompts, which she then develops further with and through movement.
Sabrina Gifti Tekako attended her first dance lesson in the 2nd grade. In Bern she dances in Tanzwerk 3011 and takes part in as many lessons as possible. Sabrina has danced in two support groups in Bern and participated in various competitions. She has performed in the productions “drzwüsche” and “perspective” by Anna Chiedza Spörri as well as the Rosengarten spectacle “Seat at the Table” by Rena Brandenberger and Anna Chiedza Spörri. Sabrina is a curious dancer; she comes from hip hop but is generally interested in movement and the body. She actively explores new ways to move and use her movement quality.
[Portraits (c) Laura Gauch]